An article published in TIME this month explores years of research on the role of sleep quality in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Researchers at Michigan State University conducted a large study to explore the impact of sleep deprivation on higher-order cognitive processes.
Previous research has shown how sleep deprivation can impair a person’s ability to follow a procedure and maintain attention. The new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, is the first of its kind to assess how sleep deprivation impacts ‘placekeeping’ – or, the ‘ability to complete a series of steps without losing one’s place, despite potential interruptions.’
The study found that when sleep deprived, participants were twice as likely to make placekeeping errors, and showed three times as many lapses in attention.
Researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered one way that sleep protects against atherosclerosis, the buildup of arterial plaques. Their study, published in Nature, describes the mechanism by which insufficient sleep increases production of inflammatory white blood cells known to be major contributors to atherosclerosis.
“We’ve identified a mechanism by which a brain hormone controls production of inflammatory cells in the bone marrow in a way that helps protect the blood vessels from damage,” explained Filip Swirski, Ph.D., the study’s senior author. “This anti-inflammatory mechanism is regulated by sleep, and it breaks down when you frequently disrupt sleep or experience poor sleep quality. It’s a small piece of to a larger puzzle.”